BRANTFORD — An intense fire broke out at Northwest Rubber on Henry Street in Brantford Sunday morning, sending huge plumes of black smoke up into the atmosphere.
Dramatic video posted to social media showed firefighters from Brantford, Brant County and Six Nations all assisting to contain the blaze — battling a wall of flames and smoke that extended at least three stories high.
Officials with the City of Brantford say the fire was under control by 7:00 p.m. Sunday evening.
Ministry of the Environment officials say there were toxic contaminants found in the central plume of the smoke from Sunday’s fire but said they did not anticipate health impacts to the public from exposure.
Residents were advised to keep windows and doors shut and to keep HVAC systems off for the duration of the day. Business in the area were advised to evacuate.
In a statement, city officials said, “The Ministry of the Environment (MOE) was also called to the scene to measure and monitor air quality within the area. While contaminants were found in the plume of the fire (billowing smoke), they measured well below the Ministry’s emergency screening values for public exposure. Therefore, at the levels currently measured the MOE does not anticipate health impacts to the public from short-term exposure to the plume from the fire.”
Residents in Brantford’s north end could not smell the fire, but some residents reported smelling burning rubber in the city’s downtown and west ends, with additional odors reported as far away as Paris and Burford.
No word from anyone yet on what started the fire or the extent of damages. Fire officials and cleanup crews were still on site at Northwest Rubber on Tuesday morning completing investigations and beginning a cleanup of the area.
According to Northwest Rubber’s website, the company is a manufacturer of recycled rubber products, converting recycled tires into rubber flooring products.
Sunday’s fire erupted in the stockyard of the factory’s complex, burning up wooden pallets stacked high with rubber floor mats.
According to Wikipedia burning rubber products are notoriously difficult to extinguish. In 1990 a tire fire in Hagersville burned for 17 days, emitting noxious fumes and toxins into the atmosphere and groundwaters of the area.
City officials say MOE will continue to monitor air quality in residential, commercial and industrial areas around the fire plume through to Wednesday.
“The City is extremely grateful for the brave men and women who make up our exemplary Fire Department, Brantford Police, Brantford Brant Paramedics, and to all of the first responders from our neighbouring municipalities including the County of Brant and Six Nations Fire departments who assisted in fighting and containing the fire all day today”, said Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis.